The views and opinions expressed below are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the GCN Live newsroom. A guest editorial follows.
Been to America's Roller Coast? That's where my daughter, Alexis, and hubby, Carmine, took a road trip this week. They check in LIVE from Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio on this week's show. It’s the only amusement park in the world with five roller coasters taller than 200 feet! These two thrill seeking newlyweds just got off one. As a neurotic mother, I’m thinking, "Couldn’t they just fool around at ground level at home?"
Who knew that Cedar Point is the most visited seasonal amusement park in the United States. An estimated 3.6 million visitors went in 2016. I would have posted the video Carmine sent me of them in real time riding one of those major roller coasters but there's some adult language at the beginning, so I couldn't . There are 17 roller coasters at Cedar Point but four are action park favorites – Maverick, Millennium Force, Valravn and Top Thrill Dragster. Carmine and Alexis check in with Top Thrills from Cedar Point at the top of the show today. Very funny.
Speaking of funny – I had a big, fun, hilarious, random run-in this past week!
Who didn't love Cindy Williams as "Shirley Feeney" in Laverne & Shirley? Or as 'Laurie Henderson' in the film American Graffiti? Cindy's latest riot of a role has her on stage in Las Vegas in Menopause The Musical, and she's on the show this week along with producer Kathi Glist of GFour Productions.
Cindy's still HOT (like the rest of the cast). Thanks to my Aunt Linda (upper row on left facing you), I met Glist (in between Aunt Linda and me), and we're posing behind Cindy Williams (bottom row center) and two of the four super-talented cast members who had me crying with laughter and in awe of their talent.
To the credit of Kathi Glist and GFour Productions, Menopause The Musical is "The Longest Running Scripted Musical In Las Vegas History." Now playing at Harrah's 350-seat Improv Showroom, eight shows per week, 52 weeks per year. The show has also played to 11 million audience members in 13 countries, 350+ cities and has been translated into five languages, and it just keeps going. HOT is worldwide! Fun to see how many men truly loved this show, too.
The hilarious musical parody is staged to classic tunes from the '60s, '70s and '80s. Set in a department store, four women with seemingly nothing in common but a black lace bra on sale, come to find they have more to share than they ever imagined. The cast makes fun of their woeful hot flashes, forgetfulness, mood swings, wrinkles, night sweats and chocolate binges. A sisterhood is created between these diverse women as they realize that menopause is no longer "The Silent Passage," but a stage in every woman’s life that is perfectly normal.
GFour Productions also launched the Survivor Tour to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The musical has raised more than $1 million for charitable partners. It's a must-see if you're in Las Vegas, or check here to see when the show will be in your town.
You can tune into “The Debbie Nigro Show” at GCNLive.com on Saturdays at 2 p.m. CST by visiting here.
If you live in western America, fireworks might be banned due to fire restrictions in your area. I know you can’t even buy fireworks in my hometown this year because of the high fire danger due to an extreme drought in Eastern Montana.
Just because there are no fireworks doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate Independence Day, though. There’s plenty you can do with your day off that is still patriotic while being less flammable and less expensive. Here are a few things you can do in lieu of fireworks on Independence Day.
Thanks to social media, it’s never too late to host a party. You can create an event on Facebook or Google+ in minutes and have people over for fun and games. Have guests bring an item for a potluck. Hit the local store and buy some party favors in red, white and blue.
Play Bocci or do something truly American and throw a baseball around or shoot some hoops. You can even spray paint a Twister board on the lawn in non-toxic, red, white and blue marking chalk. Yard games like cornhole and the ladder golf ball toss are fun for kids and adults alike, and you can make them yourself at home and have them ready overnight. My favorite and the favorite of our family’s is the “original” washer toss game. It’s a pair of carpeted boards with three holes into which you toss large washers from 10 feet away. Some call it Texas horseshoes apparently. Follow the links to do it yourself.
If you still want that feeling of American patriotism flowing through your veins that only exploding artillery provides, go down to the local gun club or shooting range and fire off a few rounds in succession. Print some fun targets like Osama Bin Laden’s face or a poster of his entire body and tape it together. Then unload like you’re fighting for America’s independence all over again. I assure you this will help you forget about there being no fireworks.
If you live near water, there’s nothing like taking a day to go fishing. Anyone can do it, and it’s the ultimate relaxation activity. You can even bring a small, gas grill and cooler with you to have a barbecue. You can even bring a small, gas grill and cooler with you to have a barbecue. You can get all the information you need regarding fishing licenses and permits by visiting here.
I know what you’re thinking: “The last thing I want to do with my day off is work.” But volunteering to help a fellow American who’s less fortunate enjoy Independence Day is far more fulfilling than fireworks. Here are some volunteer events happening in America on the Fourth of July.
You could also help out a military family in your neighborhood. Feed them lunch or put together a care package for a member of your community who’s serving overseas. You can even write them a letter, or write a letter to the family of a veteran who was lost to a war or conflict. Visit the local nursing homes and speak to a veteran, or visit a VFW or American Legion club and buy a veteran a drink.
Volunteering could be as simple as going to a local park where the homeless frequent and barbecuing hot dogs and hamburgers for them. Veterans account for nearly eight percent of the homeless population after all. Bring some voter registration cards and call it a voter registration drive. You can print voter registration cards from your Secretary of State’s website. Even people without an address have the right to vote. You can use the address of the nearest shelter if someone doesn’t have a place where they receive mail.
Parades happen almost everywhere in America on the Fourth of July. Chances are the main street in your town will be shut down for an Independence Day Parade. Check it out. You’ll score a bunch of free schwag and candy and the kids will have a blast.
If you must have your fireworks then you can get in the car and drive. Just because fireworks are banned where you live doesn’t mean there isn’t a fireworks display nearby. In the case of Eastern Montana, that’s exactly the case, though. But for others, you might be just a few hours away from a fireworks display. Use this map to find one in your area. Searching “fireworks displays near me” on Google will also give you more local options.
So that's what to do in lieu of fireworks on Independence Day. Don’t let the lack of fireworks get you down and take action now to make this Fourth of July one you and those around you will never forget.
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My dad has been visiting Sin City for years, and always seems to leave Las Vegas with cash. Many times his entire trip is paid for thanks to thoughtful gambling practices like knowing when to cash out and knowing when to raise the bet. Instincts aren’t teachable, though, so here’s a foolproof way to leave Las Vegas with cash.
Budgeting for Las Vegas is the most important thing you can do before you leave for Las Vegas. Right around the time you book a flight to Sin City, and that should be at least two weeks in advance (and departing on a Sunday and returning on a Tuesday), start putting some money aside specifically for entertainment, which includes gambling, shows, activities and escorts. While prostitution is not legal in Clark (Las Vegas), Washoe (Reno/Tahoe), Douglas and Lincoln counties, there are brothels in the rural areas of Nevada where you can pay for a legal, good time. GCN Live does not condone these activities. I’m just giving you the facts.
I started an automatic transfer from my checking account to my savings account and withdrew the accrued amount in my savings before boarding my flight to Sin City. That way when I arrived in Las Vegas, I knew exactly how much cash I was willing to lose. This is the key. Once you’re comfortable losing that money, you’ll always come back a winner as long as you don’t allow yourself to lose more. That money doesn’t belong to you anymore. It belongs to Las Vegas. This mindset also improves your chances of winning money, because the best way to win is to act like you’re playing with someone else’s money -- as long as you play the games you can control.
This is the toughest part for people visiting Las Vegas. The bright lights of the slot machines stretching to the ceiling and featuring their favorite celebrities (Cher, Britney Spears, etc.) or television shows (The Walking Dead, Big Bang Theory, etc.) can be overwhelming. Don’t give into your urges, but if you must play the reel games or keno, play on the outskirts of the Vegas Strip. The slots are looser the farther from the strip you get because it’s harder for casinos farther from the strip to entice customers to make the trip. The slots at Fremont Street and the South Point Casino are said to be loosest according to locals, with South Point’s tagline being, “The point of more return.” If the slots are your bag, play where the locals play.
Otherwise, play the games you know you can control, which means play the games you know something about. My dad plays blackjack because he feels it’s a game he can control, especially if you place yourself properly at the table and are strong in math (not to count cards but to get a sense of what the odds are that you get a card you need).
I stick to Major League Baseball betting because it’s the sport about which I know most. I play fantasy baseball every year, so I’m already doing a bit of research everyday. I’m pretty good at picking pitchers who will toss quality starts, and you can even place bets on the first five innings of a game. Placing just a couple of bets a day, including a parlay that pays, I not only limit the amount of money I can lose, but I’m entertained the entire day by games I wouldn’t normally watch.
I’ve also been known to play No Limit Hold ‘Em poker, both cash games and tournaments, because it’s “the only pure game left.” You can outplay your opponents in Hold ‘Em by simply observing their mannerisms and remembering the patterns of their play. It’s a beautiful game, and you can generally find a freeroll tournament in any casino that will help you learn the game at no cost to you.
Leaving your credit cards at home ensures you won’t attempt to make back your losses by taking an expensive cash advance out on your credit card. Credit card companies love people with gambling problems because they get to charge a fee between two and five percent for you to withdraw the cash and then charge a daily interest rate between one and seven percent higher than your interest rate for purchases. The easiest way to avoid this is to leave the plastic at home, and it will also force you to stick to the cash budget you set in step one.
Reading the local newspapers and free publications is the best way to get to know any place you’re visiting. Buffets, drinks and entertainment in Las Vegas aren’t as cheap as they once were, but coupon books and local publications like The Sunday and even the Las Vegas Sun newspaper can steer you in the right direction for cheap eats, drinks and entertainment.
Most hotels will issue visitors a coupon book in an attempt to keep them in their casinos and restaurants, because the longer you stay within their walls, the more likely they are to get your money. The coupon books usually provide a few free drinks and cheap buffets, discounts on show tickets and other entertainment, and even free casino play for joining their members club. Do yourself a favor and join all the clubs. You might not win on the casino’s dime, but you’ll be entertained for free and your cash budget will be affected that much less.
The best deals on food and drink are also off the strip, but you can find even better deals by using the Groupon app. Imagine getting $30-worth of food for $12. That’s what Groupon can do for you. It can get you a spa day for half price, too. There are also discounts on VIP Vegas club entrance, limo rides, painting and singing lessons, buffets, etc.
You can also save money using Expedia to find discounted activity tickets if you purchase in advance. Tickets to The Mob Museum are about $24 at the door, but just $19 if you purchase through Expedia a day in advance. It’s a very cool museum and fitting for Sin City. I highly recommend it.
This is how I’ll leave Las Vegas with cash, and it’s how you can, too.